LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Verizon Wireless is once again ramping up wireless capabilities in and around Churchill Downs, ahead of the 141st Kentucky Derby. The wireless carrier is adding permanent units to utility poles surrounding the track, in an effort to improve coverage during the weekend event.

Wireless coverage at the track improved greatly during last year's big race, thanks in large part to the addition of several antennas inside the gates. This year, Verizon sees room for improvement, adding 12 small cell units in the parking lots and streets surrounding the track.

"We want to have a phenomenal network experience. Small cell technology is letting us do it," said Trevor Thomas of Verizon Wireless.

Thomas describes the small cell units as "mini cell towers." Each one is the size of a back-pack and is attached to a utility pole. The units are permanent and will remain indefinitely.

The units will work to relieve the dozens of antennas that are inside the gates, along with extending strong 4G LGE coverage to the parking lots and streets surrounding the track.

"It's not only in the parking lots but it's also in the surrounding areas in the neighborhoods that see that traffic -- people leaving the event immediately after, who still want to share and stay connected," said Thomas.

According to Verizon, the Kentucky Derby is the first major sporting event where small cell technology will be used.

"150,000-plus people coming together and at the end of those two minutes, they want to share that moment with the world," said Thomas. "These enhancements are making it happen."

In the last year, Verizon also added 21 antennas to the existing collection inside Churchill Downs.

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